The Grey Fairy Book
The Story Of Dschemil and Dschemila
There was once a man whose name was Dschemil, and he had a cousin who was called
Dschemila. They had been betrothed by their parents when they were children, and now
Dschemil thought that the time had come for them to be married, and he went two or
three days' journey, to the nearest big town, to buy furniture for the new house.
While he was away, Dschemila and her friends set off to the neighbouring woods to pick
up sticks, and as she gathered them she found an iron mortar lying on the ground. She
placed it on her bundle of sticks, but the mortar would not stay still, and whenever she
raised the bundle to put it on her shoulders it slipped off sideways. At length she saw the
only way to carry the mortar was to tie it in the very middle of her bundle, and had just
unfastened her sticks, when she heard her companions' voices.
‘Dschemila, what are you doing? it is almost dark, and if you mean to come with us you
must be quick!'
But Dschemila only replied, ‘You had better go back without me, for I am not going to
leave my mortar behind, if I stay here till midnight.'
‘Do as you like,' said the girls, and started on their walk home.
The night soon fell, and at the last ray of light the mortar suddenly became an ogre, who
threw Dschemila on his back, and carried her off into a desert place, distant a whole
month's journey from her native town. Here he shut her into a castle, and told her not to
fear, as her life was safe. Then he went back to his wife, leaving Dschemila weeping over
the fate that she had brought upon herself.
Meanwhile the other girls had reached home, and Dschemila's mother came out to look
for her daughter.
‘What have you done with her?' she asked anxiously.
‘We had to leave her in the wood,' they replied, ‘for she had picked up an iron mortar,
and could not manage to carry it.'
So the old woman set off at once for the forest, calling to her daughter as she hurried
‘Do go home,' cried the townspeople, as they heard her; ‘we will go and look for your
daughter; you are only a woman, and it is a task that needs strong men.'
But she answered, ‘Yes, go; but I will go with you! Perhaps it will be only her corpse that
we shall find after all. She has most likely been stung by asps, or eaten by wild beasts.'